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Farm-to-Table Alphabet Soup

Recipes

Farm-to-Table Alphabet Soup

Lynley Jones

Your spring or summer haul from the farmer's market in a quick soup for a lazy, warm day.

Makes 6-8 bowls of soup

Ingredients

 Alphabet noodles and veggies ready for Farm-to-Table Alphabet Soup in the Adventure Kitchen.

Alphabet noodles and veggies ready for Farm-to-Table Alphabet Soup in the Adventure Kitchen.

2 quarts chicken broth (see notes)

Salt

2 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on (see notes)

1 carrot, peeled and diced small

1  celery stalk, diced small

1-2 thyme sprigs

Corn kernels from 1 ear of corn (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup peas, sliced green beans or asparagus spears

2 cups large alphabet noodles (or 1 cup smaller ones, see notes)

Black pepper

2 Tablespoons roughly chopped parsley

Instructions

1. Put the chicken broth in a medium pot and stir in some salt. The amount of salt you'll need will depend on a few factors: if you're using salted chicken broth, you'll want about 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. If you're using unsalted broth, increase the salt to 3/4 teaspoon. If you're using table salt, use half as much.

2. As the broth warms, add the chicken thighs and cover with the lid askew. Bring the chicken and broth to a gentle simmer, then adjust the heat as needed to keep the chicken bubbling gently for about 20 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool.

3. While the chicken cools, add the carrots, celery and thyme sprigs to the pot and let it come back to a gentle boil. Simmer for 5 minutes with the lid askew. Add the corn and other vegetables to the pot and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the noodles to the pot and simmer for about 3 more minutes.

 Farm-to-Table Alphabet Soup, ladled up and ready to go.

Farm-to-Table Alphabet Soup, ladled up and ready to go.

4. While the vegetables and noodles are cooking, remove the skin from the cooled chicken thighs and pull the meat from the bones. Cut the meat into rough 1/2-inch cubes. 

5. Add the cubed chicken to the pot with the vegetables and noodles. Bring everything back to a simmer and let it bubble together for about 3-4 minutes, until everything is heated through. Taste and add a pinch more salt if needed, along with a few grinds of pepper. Just before serving, stir parsley into the pot.

Notes:

The idea of this soup is to turn whatever fresh veggies are available into a quick - and tasty - soup. You don't want to be slaving over a hot stove in warm weather, so there's no sauteeing, no complicated prep. The whole thing should be easy and quick.

Don't let this soup simmer for long, or you'll overcook all those tender little seasonal veggies. You can use whatever veggies you happen to find at the market. If corn doesn't happen to be in season yet when you make this, then sub an extra cup of whatever is in season. Sliced green beans are a classic alphabet soup ingredient, and usually in season around the same time as corn. But when I made this, I had a huge, beautiful bunch of local, thin asparagus spears. So I sliced those asparagus into pieces about 1/4-inch long and used them instead. I didn't see any peas at the market, but they would also be great. (Or frozen peas if that's what you can get - all good. Just note that you'll likely need to cook frozen peas a bit longer than fresh peas.)

If you've got chicken broth in the freezer, by all means use it here! If not, boxed or canned broth is fine.

I'm calling for bone-in, skin on chicken so that all that flavorful goodness will make your soup rich and delicious. And I'm calling for thighs because they have so much more flavor than white meat. If you prefer something else boneless and skinless, go for it.

 If you use the traditional small alphabet noodles like these in your soup, use 1 cup instead of 2.

If you use the traditional small alphabet noodles like these in your soup, use 1 cup instead of 2.

You could make this a more refined broth by taking the extra step of skimming the fat from the broth after you cook the chicken, and before you add the vegetables (between steps 2 and 3). To do this you could either use a fat separator or you could chill the broth until the fat rises to the surface, then spoon it off and proceed from there. I didn't call for this because (again) this is not intended to be a fussy dish. Personally, I found the small amount of extra fat in the finished dish to be charming (and delicious!). But if it bothers you (or if you're feeding especially fancy people), feel free to skim it. Or just use skinless meat and remove any visible fat before adding it to the pan.  

I opted for larger noodles in the shapes of letters and numbers. If you're using the classic teeny-tiny alphabet noodles, they'll cook much faster, so drop them into the soup about 2-3 minutes before serving.

You could definitely serve this as a light one-dish meal. To make it a bit heartier, you could add an additional chicken thigh.